Since reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, I've found myself thinking a lot about where our food comes from, and this has led me to now question nearly every food purchase I make, from produce to eggs. It's no longer enough for me to buy organic; as anyone who's ever seen Chilean-grown organic asparagus at Whole Foods in the dead of winter can attest, sometimes organic food comes with as high a carbon footprint as its conventional cousin. Bottom line: If you want to lessen your environmental impact and eat the freshest -- and thereby most nutritious -- fare, buy local.
But how to do this in an urban area like Los Angeles? Sure, we're blessed with year-round farmers markets in every corner of the county, but a lot of Angelenos are wondering why we're not growing more produce and raising food-producing animals ourselves. Unlike inhabitants of other more densely populated metropolises, we've got the land right here in our own neighborhoods -- and near perfect weather, year round -- to grow and raise much of the food we could ever need. Yet somehow, we're content to keep wasting precious water supplies on these useless patches of green lawns and spend our hard-earned dollars at the grocery store.
Thanks to the Obamas, who planted the first edible garden at the White House since FDR, there's been a lot of media coverage about the resurgence of the victory garden. But as the newly-formed Los Angeles Urban Chicken Enthusiasts and its 137 (and growing) members will assert, local and sustainable agriculture doesn't have to be just about growing fruits and vegetables.